Renault-Nissan Aiming To Pass GM’s Sales By 2018, Enter Top Three Photo:
Mike Stevens | Mar, 12 2015 | 2 Comments

The global automotive sales charts of 2018 will see the top three dominated by European and Asian carmakers, if Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has his way.

For now, Japanese giant Toyota remains the world’s best-selling auto manufacturer, followed by the Volkswagen and GM groups.

Speaking with industry paper Automotive News this week, Carlos Ghosn said that replacing GM in the top three is within reach for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

“We have headwinds in some markets, but we sold 8.5 million units last year,” he told the paper. “The No. 3 [GM] is 1.4 million units ahead of us.”

With 2018 in his sights, just two years before his intended retirement date, Ghosn said “a lot of things can happen in three years”.

Above: Renault's next-generation Megane, due this year, will be one of its most important offerings.
Above: Renault's next-generation Megane, due this year, will be one of its most important offerings.

Ghosn said the key to boosting the Alliance’s global sales lies largely in China, a market that is expected to account for nearly a third of worldwide sales by 2018.

“The first step is properly getting into China, where we plan a 3 percent market share, about 600,000 units a year, from about 30,000 units that we import now,” he said.

Emerging markets like India, Russia and Brazil are also expected to contribute significantly to an estimated 85 million sales in 2015 for the global automotive market.

“India is one of the Asian markets with the highest potential for growth. We have made investments there and our product offensive is starting now,” he told the paper.

Ghosn said that the Alliance’s “significant capacity” in Russia, where it now also sells the reborn Datsun brand, is not currently moving in the right direction.

“[...] but this will not last forever,” he said. “Russia has a much bigger potential than what the market is showing today. When oil prices return to a more reasonable level - because today they are abnormally low - the Russian market will boom again.”

Ghosn expects the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s growth to come through its own efforts and its existing deal with Daimler, rather than by way of adding new carmaker partnerships to its portfolio.

“We don’t need another partner. Partnerships are a matter of opportunity, synergies and complementarity. You don’t form partnerships just for the sake of additional volume,” he said.

“Scale is a problem, sure, but at 8.5 million units, we don’t lack scale. Somebody else needs to worry about scale, not us.”

The Dacia range is also a significant factor for the Alliance, with many brands now working to replicate the budget brand’s success in emerging markets.

“Dacia is not just a car range. It’s a whole system, implemented with integrity in order to get the results in product, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing and sales. This may be something that is difficult to reproduce. I’m very happy that no one has been able to reproduce it yet,” Ghosn said.

“Nissan is benchmarking Dacia to try to replicate its success with the Datsun range.”

He said that Nissan will also focus on introducing a more premium feel to its range, while also driving luxury offshoot Infiniti further into the prestige market.

Infiniti has struggled to recognition in that segment over the past decade, although recent unveilings - the compact Q30 and QX30 models, along with the stylish new Q60 Coupe and Q80 concepts - show that the brand may not be languishing in the void for much longer.

But, as Ghosn himself notes, a lot can happen in three years. Renault-Nissan’s rivals won’t be sitting on their hands between now and 2018, and Korean giant-slayer Hyundai-Kia is also on the march.

The top three could be a very different list by 2018.

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